Saturday, December 31, 2011

Day 118: All About Eve

I'm extremely proud of myself to have made it through the end of 2011 while still on my 2,500 word a day writing challenge. Here are some numbers I'm proud of:

Books completed: 1
Books started: 5
Longest book: 1,000 Character Writing Prompts at 150,000 words and counting
Total words written: 295,000+

Here are some things I'd like to take care of in early 2011:

- Finish Ted Saves the World and 1,000 Character Writing Prompts
- Publish those books and my six workbooks for grades one through 12
- Do a big marketing push for The Post-College Guide to Happiness

Here are some other goals for 2011:
- Write and publish 10 books in total over the course of the challenge
- Continue to improve blog traffic to the point of getting 1,000 visitors a day for an entire month
- Continue to improve ad conversions to the point of earning $100 to $500 per month
- Continue to write 2,500 words a day after the challenge has concluded, to go over one million words in total

I realize that these are some big goals to live up to, but I definitely think they're all possible. I'm especially excited to see how well received 1,000 Character Writing Prompts is received. The bar has been set incredibly high by my first book and I hope that the increased length and the sheer amount of work I've put into it will pay off. I'm working on a major promotion for The Post-College Guide to Happiness and one day I would like to reach the goal of selling one million copies (though that may be a far off goal, since I'm around 20 right now).

Today I wrote a blog post about how you should trust yourself when you're writing a book. I also worked on a sort of rant about how religion should be more focused on love than hate in my living in the future book.

For those of you who have followed my challenge so far this year, I really appreciate it. I hope to gain more followers in 2012, but I don't really care that much if people follow this one as long as I can keep up with it every single day. Have a healthy and wonderful 2012!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Day 117: We Built This City

I was thinking today about the hard work you see everywhere around you in the city of Chicago. You may look at an apartment or an office building and all you might see is "a building." In actuality, these buildings required hundreds to thousands of hours of planning, followed by hard labor. If you look closer at an office building, you see the businesses inside that are keeping our economy alive through the hard work that was required to found them, up through the many hours that employees work today to keep it afloat. If you walk into a library, you might just smell and see books, but I think it's more productive to see little collections of hundreds of hours of writing and research before there were such things as spell check and Wikipedia.

We built this city on hard work and a lot of dedication. The reason these books and buildings have lasted is because of all the work that was put into them in the first place. If you want to create something that will stand the test of time like all of these things have, the best thing for you to do is to start working hard. You need to put in the time to plan out what you love and then you need to make it happen. Spending your time playing games or checking Facebook is not likely to contribute to your work. Push past things that will give you pleasure or leisure and start putting in the blood, sweat and tears necessary to create something worthwhile.

Today, I worked on my living in the future book and wrote about purpose. I also created a blog post entitled, happiness and pleasure, about how important it is to understand the difference between immediate gratification and true fulfillment. Let's keep building this city, y'all!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Day 116: Good Taste

I wrote a blog post today on the subject of good taste, but I thought that it was worth following up on here. I listened to part of an interview with Ira Glass from "This American Life" and I thought it to be so important to writers who are just starting out, I figure I'd blog about it twice.

In this interview, Glass refers to the fact that we get into writing initially because we have good taste and because of our love for great television or books, we get into these creative art forms ourselves. This good taste, however, can be our downfall confidence-wise though, because it makes us feel like we aren't as good as the people we aspire to be like. It's obvious that the first few things you write aren't going to be Pulitzer Prize winners, but I've never quite heard it like Glass puts it.

You need to create as much work as you possibly can to narrow the gap between your taste and your talent. If you keep working hard (for Glass, he says it took him more than 8 years), you will eventually be able to create creative work that you consider to be something special. This is an extremely important message and I hope that all beginning writers learn about this in some way, shape or form.

In addition to writing about this awesome interview, I worked a bit on a new screenplay and played around with the living in the future book. Off to new adventures in narrowing the gap :).

If you are interested in finding out more about my work, check out my author page on Amazon, on which you can check out all of my books. If you have a book blog, I'm currently looking to do a blog tour starting early next year. Feel free to contact me at my Build Creative Writing Ideas website. Thanks!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Day 115: Where the Heart Is

Amy and I returned back home to Chicago yesterday and it's been nice settling back into our apartment, especially with the wonderful wall art, kitchen tools and other awesome gifts we have been able to bring home. I had such a successful time getting my writing done in Chapel Hill in a limited amount of time, that it was odd coming back to a full day with nothing to do but write. I dawdled a bit, but here I am coming close to the end of the 2,500 for the 115th straight day.

Home may be where the heart is, but it's going to take all the heart I can muster to keep my exercise plan going, now that we're really into the full swing of winter. I think I'll take a break today after the speed up, slow down, rain run that my friend Vince and I took part in yesterday. As we drop below 20 degrees here, I'm glad that I have a little additional running gear (thanks Amy!) that will get me through it.

Another struggle has been finishing the 1,000 Character Writing Prompts book. This 150,000 word juggernaut is so close to being complete, but I needed a week off from it. I've enjoyed working on Living in the Future, though I'll have a hard time saying that I practice what I preach unless I push through the end of that character book and put it out to market. I already have a wonderful cover lined up, now I just need to finish and edit the dang thing :).

Other than working on "Living," I wrote a blog post about creating some writing resolutions as we approach the wonder that is New Year's Eve.

Now let's all eat some leftovers and write! :)

If you are interested in finding out more about my work, check out my author page on Amazon, on which you can check out all of my books. If you have a book blog, I'm currently looking to do a blog tour starting early next year. Feel free to contact me at my Build Creative Writing Ideas website. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Day 114: Before Sunset

As I sit here on my Southwest Airlines flight, I can look out to my left to see a beautiful setting sun washing across the North Carolina sky. I've had a wonderful holiday trip and I can't express my gratitude enough. Last night, I was even able to see several friends from college and this morning I was able to go on a rainy day run with one of them. Running is one of my favorite activities to do with a partner because over the course of four or more miles, you can run through a lot of different conversation topics. You learn a lot and you get to share a great deal of yourself as well. Having the added dialogue never hurts when it comes to thinking up writing ideas, and I always appreciate the extra support.

For Christmas/Hanukkah, I gave out about 15 copies of The Post-College Guide to Happiness to my relatives and friends and I'm really excited to see what they think. My friend's sister flipped through a copy and told me she enjoyed my writing style. It's great to hear a specific compliment here and there so that I know I'm doing a halfway decent job.

I'm trying to formulate my goals for 2011. Obviously, I'm already in the midst of a few challenges with this writing challenge and the Tundra challenge (which I'm more than halfway to the goal of 100 miles at this point). I've been challenged by Amy's family to a weight loss challenge, which might be some good motivation for the new year. I sold between 6,000 and 7,000 books in 2011 and I'd love to try to double or triple that in 2012. In addition, I'd like to get in some more weight lifting to go with my running. Just a few thoughts that I'm brainstorming out here!

In writing news, I worked on the "exercise" section of living in the future and I wrote a blog post called how to finish a book. Happy last night of Hanukkah, y'all!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Day 113: Another Day in Paradise

Well, maybe Chapel Hill isn't paradise, but it's been a particularly nice getaway from the city for a while. Whenever you have someone cooking your meals for you and you have a lot of wonderful presents to sort through, there certainly can't be too much to complain about. In addition, it's great to see people that I haven't seen in a year or in years!

I have a great little setup in Amy's mom's quilting area and I've been able to hang out here every morning while getting my writing done. If you are on vacation or if you're staying in an unfamiliar area, this is the best thing to get locked down early on. Find a spot where you won't be bothered so that you aren't hunting for it at an odd hour of the morning or night when you don't have a lot of light to go on. For me, this was obviously a priority, being in a 2,500 word per day challenge.

Today, I continued to work on the living in the future book, talking about one of my favorite subjects: happiness. I also wrote a blog post about indefinite productivity titled, the goal beyond the goal.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Day 112: X-Mas X-ing

So far so good on a wonderful Christmas Day with the West family. As I did on Thanksgiving Day with my family, I got up excessively early this morning to get most of my writing completed. After finishing 2,000 out of 2,500 words, I was able to open a plethora of wonderful gifts. What I'm most grateful for this year, however, is the fact that I've been able to stick with this challenge all the way through December 25th :). I even wrote a post about being a grateful writer on my website today. I also worked on the living in the future book.

I gave out a few copies of my happiness book as a gift to some people this year and thus far it has been very well received. I have no idea if people will read it, but those who have opened it up seem to be pretty happy with what they've gotten! Maybe by next Christmas, I can get a ton of strangers to open the book up as a present as well :). Sounds like a good goal!

Happy Christmas everybody!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Day 111: Dancing in the Dark

Well, technically I wasn't dancing in the dark, but yesterday I did go for a run in the dark in Amy's wooded Chapel Hill neighborhood. It was quite different from my typical run through the very well lit streets of Chicago. It allowed me to think a little more than usual and I had a great idea that I've been wanting to follow up on for a while. Due to the fact that Kindles and Nooks are becoming much more image friendly, it's perfectly possible to digitally publish a children's book with tons of pictures. I have a few artist friends and I'd love to embark on a quest to put out a ton of children's books next year. I love writing for kids and it would be great to have one of the break out to be popular. It's just an idea for now, but let's see if it gets any traction.

I worked on the living in the future book today and I wrote a blog post about how being the healthiest writer is a recipe for success in being the best writer you can be. We'll be checking out The Muppets again today for a $7 matinee while all the crazies are out shopping. This is something I can live with :)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Day 110: Friday Night Lights

Last night, I had the joy of sitting down with Amy and her family to watch an episode of Friday Night Lights, one of the best shows to ever grace the television with its presence. If you've never had the opportunity to watch this "high school football show" that is actually a "story of small-town America and a marriage that can weather all storms that come its way through honesty and love," you should get a move on! The writing, acting and directing on the show is inspiring to say the least. I feel like any artist in the film or acting world who is feeling fed up with the awful products that Hollywood is putting out should take a look at this show to see what can be done when all cylinders are clicking creatively.

I'm looking forward to today because it will be a day of shopping, sweet eating and festive Chapel Hill traveling. It's one of my favorite Christmas vacation days and it's the day that makes me very appreciative that I'm able to come back here year after year.

In writing news, I started working on a new book (to give myself a tiny break from character writing prompts) called Living in the Future. I also wrote a blog post about how to work smarter. Happy shopping, y'all!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 109: Friends and Sugar

A quick post today, since there are wonderful friends here and a plentiful supply of sugar in the form of many cookies and sweets. I did get my bag back from Southwest in the middle of the night. I'm glad it got a little bit of sun in Orlando :). I'm avoiding the rain by staying inside and baking cookies with Amy's sister Charlotte and that sounds like a good enough vacation to me!

In writing news, I worked on some writing prompts about sailors, fishermen and captains and I wrote a blog post about believing in yourself.

I know that it's hard to believe that I have some difficulty thinking highly of myself from time to time. When that happens, the best course of action is to remember what I've accomplished thus far (in this case 108+ days worth of 2,500 words per day) and that will help me develop the attitude I need to get through another day. String enough of these days together and I won't have to work nearly as hard to get the money I need to keep everything above water :).

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day 108: Flying Foibles

Today was a bit crazy as I had to get up at 4 a.m. to finish half of my freelance work en route to the airport. On the way to the airport I jotted some quick writing ideas down in my phone and put them down on digital paper as we waited for the delayed plane. I was about to dance on the rooftops to sing the praises of Southwest Airlines due to the surprise presence of airborne Wi-Fi, allowing me to finish the second half of my freelance writing. Unfortunately, they later misplaced my bag, so I suppose my love for them will have to be a wash for the day as a whole :).

Regardless of not having a change of underwear in the meantime, I'm pretty happy to be here in North Carolina ready to watch my alma mater kick some Texas behind :).

In writing news, I worked on some writing prompts about mythological beings and followed it up with an equally romantic blog post on how to write love poetry.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Day 107: UPS Hostage

I was feeling a bit cooped up this week and I really wanted to get out of the apartment to get some of my writing completed today. I was held a bit of a hostage by UPS unfortunately, waiting for my parents Hanukkah presents to arrive. I suppose I could have paid $5 to get it delivered to the UPS store just down the street for me, but I figured my money could be better spent. Fortunately, after a burst of productivity that coupled writing with laundry folding, I was back in the game and I finished all of my writing around the normal time of 2 PM.

Tomorrow will be a bit of a challenge with an early morning flight to North Carolina to hang with Amy's family. The plan is to get half of my freelance articles out of the way between 4:30 AM and 6:30 AM, take my 2,500 words down a peg or two, finish them in the airport and on the plane and then speed back to Amy's 'rents house to get the 2nd half of the freelance work completed. I'll be pushing to get it all done early because we're all heading to the Dean Dome to see our alma mater play Texas in some good old fashioned college hoops. Very excited :).

In my writing today, I filled out the character prompts for the dark/mysterious and citizens of the world while starting on the Armed Forces. I also wrote a blog post on pride in writing. Happy final shopping days!

If you are interested in finding out more about my work, check out my author page on Amazon, on which you can check out all of my books. If you have a book blog, I'm currently looking to do a blog tour starting early next year. Feel free to contact me at my Build Creative Writing Ideas website. Thanks!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Day 106: Words with Friends

One of the best ways to become inspired as a writer is to hang out with a variety of people. It's easy to get stuck in your head when you don't hear any different words or patterns of speech that you're used to. By making sure to add various social occasions to your life, you will be able to more easily create characters and you will be able to think up more topics in general. This was a weekend full of social encounters, including the Groupon holiday party, which had me and my girlfriend surrounded by a cast of thousands. Connect with others and connecting with your inner creativity will be much easier.

My daily writing assignment had me creating some character writing prompts on citizens of the world in addition to a blog post of January writing prompts.

In two days, we'll be heading down to North Carolina for a good old-fashioned Christmas celebration. For the third year in a row, I will not be heading to my family's get-together, since Amy and I have split Thanksgiving and Christmas right down the middle. This morning I sent a big box worth of gifts their way and I'm proud to have included some of my writing in those gifts. I won't spoil it for any family members reading this blog, but I really hope that everybody enjoys what I've provided! Some of my family have had a tough year financially and I hope that sometime in the future, I will have a book that does so much for my income that I might be able to contribute to such issues. That is probably a long way off, but my desire to contribute to my family is one of the many reasons I am keeping up with this challenge.

Happy Monday everybody!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Day 105: A December to Remember

Last December, my career as an author took off as my book sales nearly doubled from the previous month, making me wonder if I should give this "writer thing" a deeper look. A year later, I'm experiencing some similar holiday cheer with a healthy boost in book sales. In light of the fact that I may be releasing as many as seven books in January and February with more to come throughout the challenge, I can't help but be grateful.

I'm not yet on par with some of these million copy sellers (I haven't reached 10,000, so I have a few powers of ten to go :)), but I am so happy to have been blessed with the great fortune that allows me to be much more comfortable this year than I was in 2010. I still have debt and a long way to go to take it down to $0, but with continued hard work and writing productivity, perhaps I'll be able to accomplish that goal by December 2012.

Today in writing news, I wrote some prompts about doctors and nurses and created a blog post on the definition of happiness. Happy final shopping days, y'all!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Day 104: Service with a Smile

One of the reasons that writers write is to serve the public. I'm a big fan of the company, Groupon, for multiple reasons (yes, my girlfriend works for it, but just go with me here). One of the main reasons is the fact that they have amazing customer service. The people who work for the CS department at the company are actually encouraged to give customers a 100% refund if Groupon or the merchant messed up. 100% refunds all the time? Who does that?

Writers are providing a service because they are fulfilling a need that someone out in the reading universe has. If you write a book about repairing roofs, your main intention with the book can't be to make money or putting roof servicers out of business. It should be to help people who are trying to understand their own roofs. If you are creating a vampire novel, you should be trying to entertain the people who are craving that vampire goodness. I wrote a book on happiness, particularly (but not exclusively) for the post-college crowd, called The Post-College Guide to Happiness. I wrote this book because I saw a need out there and I desperately wanted to provide a service for people. I learned long ago that your value is equal to your service. I wanted to create a book that so many people could find use from that the value I'm worth in all areas of my life would go up astronomically. Here's to hoping :).

In writing news, I began playing around with a new self-help book called Living in the Future and I worked on a post about my happiness book called the book on happiness. Happy Saturday, y'all!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Day 103: Capturing the Day

My favorite part of this challenge is how it allows me to capture the day. What I mean is that as a writer, sometimes the day would escape me and I didn't feel willing or able to write a single word toward my blog or books. Now that I'm forcing myself to write 2,500 words a day no matter what, I am capturing the day, every day. Sure, I don't always complete everything I set out to do each day beyond the challenge, but I always get at least 2,500 words done without fail. It gives me a sense of pride that used to be absent from my life. I now know I'm able to accomplish nearly any project as long as I push myself to new limits every single day.

Today, I worked on some prompts about farmers and dark/mysterious folk. I also wrote a blog post entitled how to deal with burnout.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Day 102: Tea and Dumplings

Not every day on such an intensive challenge will be all tea and dumplings. Though there was a bit of miso soup and Hawaiian fried rice, since I got out of the house to get some food with my friend Swam. I'm getting off topic and it's only the third sentence. What I'm trying to say here is that some days will be tougher than others and will feel like pulling teeth compared to the days when you get done before the sun has come up. On these days where the daylight hours are short and the weather is cold, motivation may be in short shrift, but you've got to keep pushing. Find inspiration wherever you can, whenever you can. There are an unlimited number of ways to be inspired creatively, you just have to get off your butt and find them.

Today, I came ever so close to finishing this huge book I've been talking about seemingly forever, by writing some character writing prompts on salespeople. I also wrote a blog post on failing forward in reference to a great Louis C.K. interview I'm currently listening to.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Day 101: Fighting

It's so strange to hear fighting on the train or the bus now that my girlfriend and I have more or less stopped arguing for the last year or so. Sure, there are moments here and there, but fighting no longer resonates with me as something I'm interested in taking a part in. When I hear other people battling back and forth, attempting to gain some kind of ground in the relationship, it sounds so odd, because I've realized that nobody ever wins in those kind of fights. There's really no point and you're only taking away from the relationship by "trying to win." A relationship needs to be like a really long "yes and" heavy improv scene. There can be conflict, but you can't disagree with who a person is and what that person represents. If you do, you end up with a crappy scene, much like the scenes I've witnessed recently on public transportation. It makes people uncomfortable and it only serves to make you feel good about yourself for about a second.

How do you learn to stop fighting? I suggest reading 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. It's a book with many great points about relationships, parenting and business partnerships and from this one book alone I was able to reform multiple aspects of my existence. Diffusing fighting in your life has to do with employing empathic listening, active love, win-win situations and a desire to use your time to fulfill your life goals. Unless one of your life goals is to act like a jerk, most of the time fighting won't get you closer to the person you want to be remembered as. I thoroughly recommend you check it out.

Here in consistent writing town, I worked on some character writing prompts on mentally and physically disabled people and I wrote a blog post on rainy day writing for those who have to get writing done despite the crappy weather outside :).

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Day 100: Like a Baby's Bottom

It feel really great to have completed 100 days of this writing challenge. That means I've more than exceeded 250,000 words since I started in early September. I've definitely felt some fatigue this week from my hard work and I postponed a few projects that I'd been planning to squeeze in before the end of the year. I'm no stranger to tiring myself out from working too hard, but the best way for me to get past it is to treat each day like a baby's bottom. Smooth. New. Fresh (after it's been changed of course). I need to come out ready to press on to day number 101, 201, eventually 301 and everything in between. If I think of it as another boring addition to my collection of hard fought days, I'll be spent in no time. I need to be grateful for what I've done so far and be proud of what I can achieve that very day.

Today in my 100th day of writing, I worked on some more character writing prompts on religious figures and also worked on some about the mentally disabled. On my website, I took a bit of a departure and wrote about the future of creativity.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Day 99: New Running Clothes

I know, I know, this isn't a running blog, but I'm very happy to have gotten some new running clothes! My philosophy on running the last few years during the winter has been to throw on whatever clothes I could to fight the elements and trudge through it like Rocky Balboa. This year, I've decided to do like the real runners do and wear clothes that fit and offer the proper amount of warmth throughout (read, the bare minimum when you start, only slightly too much when you warm up). I've made fun of stuff like dri-fit clothes before, but call me a believer, I felt much better than I usually do during a winter run (because I wasn't overheating). I am happy as a running clam :).

In writing news today, I worked on some character writing prompts about religious figures (yay lady Rabbis! :)) and I created a blog post on how to deal with stress. Off to eat a pizza with the lady and get ready for day number 100!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Day 98: Creating Something Amazing

I've very happy to have been a part of so many interesting and exciting artistic projects. I've created two Crash the Super Bowl videos and they were both great learning experiences that made me a stronger director. I've produced multiple plays, several of which recruiting hundreds of people to see them in all their glory. The ones that I had contributed to the writing of, made me feel even more pride, when people laughed at jokes I had come up with or made emotional connections to characters I had made up. I was even so lucky as to be a part of one show that grew like wildfire in the early Facebook era and I had the joy of putting over one hundred people into a room meant for 40.

But all that being said, I've never been a part of a worldwide phenomenon. I know what you're saying, "Very few people have, Bryan. If more people had been, it probably wouldn't be that big a deal." I know, you're right. But still, it would be so cool to be a part of one of these successful Kickstarter deals that raise over $100,000 and are able to use that money to realize their creative power. It'd be wild and fulfilling to win some kind of film contest and to see your work up on the big screen and for it to spread around the country in a cult or mainstream way. I'm not necessarily doing what I need to do to get something like that to happen to me. I haven't put up a Kickstarter in a while and I haven't entered any contests like that in years.

If I am going to dream big, I have to take steps to meet that dream halfway. I can't win any contests I don't enter. I can't create any artistic collaborative experiences if I don't collaborate more with other artists. The first and most important step is to dream the dreams. The second most important step is to move toward the goals as much as you can on your own.

In keeping with this theme, I wrote a blog post today about personal goal setting. I like the post, because it made me think about some of the obstacles (most of them self-imposed) that I have to overcome to make my dreams a reality. I also worked on some character writing prompts about activists today. Have a great rest of your Sunday!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Day 97: Stave It Off

The best part about this week was that despite the fact I was feeling a bit down in the dumps and didn't get around to some of what I wanted to do, I was still able to push through and write my 2,500 words each day. Even a guy who writes a book about happiness has rough days from time to time. That was one of the things that stuck with me during my research. It's OK to be "not happy" every so often even if you fancy yourself a happy dude. Happiness isn't about smiling like a crazy person all day long, it's about making happiness and the things that go with it a priority. I'm going for positive goals in my life, I'm grateful for what I have and I'm doing my best to keep the negativity I can control to a minimum. These are a few of the areas I wrote about in my blog post today on how to find true happiness.

I'm also very fortunate to have supportive people in my life like my parents (happy birthday Dad!) and my special lady. If it wasn't for Amy, I might not have even left the house the last couple of days (though, to be fair, this was partly a result of the below 20 degree temperature). It's easy to get into a routine of being very cooped up when you're trying to write so much. Next week, I plan on mixing things up with at least one coffee shop day and perhaps a library day as well. Gotta keep it fresh!

In other news, I am very close to completing my HUGE tome of character writing prompts. I have finished 83 out of 100 sections and the other day I passed 125,000 words all together. Pretty crazy. I hope that people appreciate how much work I've put into it. I also hope it will be a big seller :).

Note: The reason I made the title Stave it Off is because of this amazing Strong Bad cartoon from back in the day :).

Friday, December 9, 2011

Day 96: The Source

I find prosperity thinking to be extremely interesting. I once spoke on the phone with acclaimed author of Happy for No Reason, Marci Shimoff, and she recommended I check out The 40 Day Prosperity Plan by John Randolph Price. The book is a meditation program for wealth in which you affirm to yourself that your boss, your job and your investments aren't the source of your income: God is. According to Price, when you expect all of your income to come from certain places, you are closing off an essentially unlimited divine source. If you can trust that God will show you opportunities to have everything you'll ever need, you'll be set.

This idea may be a bit too religious for some, but personally I like it. When I was in my depressed post-college haze, I vowed to myself that if I found better, more effective ways of thinking I would try to adopt them. Three years after testing out prosperity thinking, I'm in much better financial shape. You could make the argument that it doesn't necessarily have a lot to do with my shift in focus, but there's no way to know. That's the thing about faith, to get any benefit out of it, you need to stop asking questions and start believing. Give it a shot sometime, I'd rather be healthy and vaguely religious than starving and cynical any day.

In today's writing news, I worked on some character writing prompts about pilots, scientists and a few more dentists. I also wrote a post of creative writing hints. Happy Friday everybody!

If you are interested in finding out more about my work, check out my author page on Amazon, on which you can check out all of my books. If you have a book blog, I'm currently looking to do a blog tour starting early next year. Feel free to contact me at my Build Creative Writing Ideas website. Thanks!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Day 95: Life Beyond Debt

If I had not deeply pulled myself into debt into my early 20s, I might be almost completely out of the water by now. I'm grateful that I'm not struggling as I have in previous years, due to my book sales and my freelance job. My job is relatively easy, though it's probably obvious that my hear lies in my book and website writing. For me to give up the freelance gig, which has been good money for me in the last year, I would need to make about three times off my books (and other sources) that I'm making currently.

At that point, I would have nearly all of my debt taken care of, I would write closer to 5,000 words per day toward my books and blogs (a post Sept. 2012 challenge perhaps :)) and I could put more energy into my marketing.

That is a life I truly look forward to and I believe that it will be possible. After that point, I hope to buy a house outright with no mortgage and save up to live on a beautiful island. Hey, a man can dream, can't he? :)

Today in Bryan Cohen writing new, I wrote some character writing prompts about babies (my girlfriend was delighted to hear about that) and scientists (no baby scientists though) and I wrote a post about real creative writing. I'm actually closing in on 400 posts on my website, which is really exciting! If all goes as planned, I'll have over 700 posts there by the end of the challenge and ideally, a subsequent BOOM in traffic :).

If you are interested in finding out more about my work, check out my author page on Amazon, on which you can check out all of my books. If you have a book blog, I'm currently looking to do a blog tour starting early next year. Feel free to contact me at my Build Creative Writing Ideas website. Thanks!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Day 94: The Frozen Tundra

In an effort to keep myself motivated to stay in shape this winter, I have joined something called The Frozen Tundra 100 Challenge. This community running challenge awards prizes at random to those who finish 100 miles over the course of December and January. So far, I've run 22 miles, making me close to making the first quarter of my challenge. I'm not sure what it is that I like so much about these challenge things (i.e. this blog), but I think it's good to test yourself and your limits from time to time. How else will you know what you're capable of?

These chilly runs have been aided by the fact that it's been unseasonably warm so far. Yes, 30 degrees is still warmer than it can be up in Chicago. I think it also helps that pretty much the only time I need to go outside is for running. If I was walking to "work" or had to travel about the city for errands, I might be completely sick of the cold. Since I'm fortunate enough to stay in the apartment more or less all day, it makes me less annoyed with the cold (especially since I've been equating cold with necessary fat preventing exercise this month :)). I think it won't be hard for me to reach the challenge's goal and I may even be able to surpass 200 if I really push it. I'd love to take the opportunity to run almost every day I'm down in North Carolina after the 21st (since it'll be warmer down there) as well.

Today in the writing world, I worked on some prompts about dentists and I worked on a blog post about visualization and manifesting.

If you are interested in finding out more about my work, check out my author page on Amazon, on which you can check out all of my books. If you have a book blog, I'm currently looking to do a blog tour starting early next year. Feel free to contact me at my Build Creative Writing Ideas website. Thanks!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Day 93: In 5 Years

A good question to ask yourself every so often is, "Where do I want to be in 5 years?" Part of the adventure of life is the journey to each of those five year points, but it's a good idea to put some goals in between you and the inevitable passage of time. Do I want to still be writing? Yes, I think that is a good path for me for the rest of my life. I may still be creating writing prompts but then again, I would like to create fiction that most of the population can enjoy. Wouldn't it be cool to make it onto some kind of best seller list or something? I think that would be a fantastic goal.

I'd like to be married, ideally to my girlfriend, and I'd like us to be financially well off. I'm hoping that I'm able to achieve that goal from my writing and my websites, but I'm certainly open to other possibilities. One of the big points of prosperity thinking is that you can't lock yourself into believing that your money is going to come from one specific place. The money doesn't come from a boss or work that you did in this theory: it comes from God. In keeping with that point, I'd like to be more available spiritually and I'd like to continue to work on my attempts to feel peace.

Where would you like to be in 5 years?

In the writing world, I worked on some character writing prompts about dancers and homeless people. I also wrote a page of student writing prompts.

If you are interested in finding out more about my work, check out my author page on Amazon, on which you can check out all of my books. If you have a book blog, I'm currently looking to do a blog tour starting early next year. Feel free to contact me at my Build Creative Writing Ideas website. Thanks!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Day 92: Other Ideas

One of the great things about writing books that are full of ideas is that you can't help but get ideas for your own life. I've been thinking about trying to pull in some additional income along with my freelance work, my book sales and my website's advertising. I've also wanted to get some money together to do some advertising on website's like Kindle Nation Daily and Pixel of Ink, which have subscriber lists including tens of thousands of avid readers.

Well, if you can't pay them, join them.

Today, I came up with the idea of creating my own Kindle advertising site. These sites have been building for years and have huge subscriber lists to prove it. This is why they can charge hundreds of dollars for an author to advertise for a single day. I believe that if I put in a little work every day, that in a couple of years, perhaps I would be able to command the same amount. Even if I shoot for the stars and fail, there are going to be Kindle authors for years to come and I'm bound to make back the money and time I put in.

Just a fun idea to go along with my love for writing and authorship :). Today in the writing world, I worked on some character writing prompts about "the twisted" and models/dancers. I also wrote a post of creative writing essay ideas. Happy Monday all!

If you are interested in finding out more about my work, check out my author page on Amazon, on which you can check out all of my books. If you have a book blog, I'm currently looking to do a blog tour starting early next year. Feel free to contact me at my Build Creative Writing Ideas website. Thanks!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Day 91: Sources of Inspiration

When coming up with a ton of different ideas everyday, it helps to have a multitude of sources of inspiration to draw upon. I've gotten a lot of aid from my improv comedy days which have taught me to pull ideas essentially from thin air. When the air seems dry idea-wise though, I love reading articles about movies. Aside from film being one of my favorite subjects, hearing news of different characters, stories and actors can quickly spur me with a new idea. Another thing that helps is when I've done a bit of exercise as it keeps the oxygen flowing to my brain better than sitting on my ass. I thoroughly recommend an exercise laptop bike like I have for this purpose :). Another source of inspiration is looking back at my life and the people and situations I've encountered. The longer you've lived, the more you have to draw from, so I suggest that you use it!

Today, I worked on some prompts about rebels and "the twisted" and followed it up with a blog post of creative writing activities.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Day 90: But How Do I Feel?

After 90 days of writing 2,500 words per day, I've accomplished a lot of fantastic feats. I'm closing in on writing a book that is three times longer than the longest thing I've ever produced and I think it could be really helpful to writers everywhere. I've created so much new content for my blog that I have drastically increased my readership. I have made writing less difficult by making it into such a daily activity that I'm even willing to get up early on a Saturday or Sunday to do it. But how do I feel?

I feel less stressed out. I was always so stressed that I was a writer who wasn't writing (and this is coming from a writer who had written multiple books, I suppose I am my toughest critic). I felt like I was wasting too much time on things that weren't important like posting on Facebook and watching television. Now when I do leisurely things, I don't feel as guilty. I know that the efforts I've put in earlier in the day to contribute to my writing give me a bit more freedom to be more loosey-goosey as the day goes on. And on days when I'm able to accomplish my writing, my freelance work AND some networking and other Quadrant II activities, I feel extremely fulfilled as if I'm finally starting to live up to my potential.

If you are feeling like you are stuck in a rut, I thoroughly recommend that you take part in a challenge in the area you felt you were meant for in life. If you can do just a little bit a day toward your purpose, you will be happier, healthier and more fulfilled. How do I feel? I feel so good that I want you all to feel exactly the same way too.

Today in the writing world, I worked on some writing prompts about intellectuals and I created a blog post about career change motivation. Off to watch some Tar Heel basketball! Go UNC!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Day 89: Too Much Time on My Hands

When you live a freelance life like myself, you save a lot of potentially wasted time that normal 9 to 5-ers have. For instance, since I don't have to take a train into work (or get dressed up for work), I save at least an hour and a half compared to some folks I know (and over 3 hours compared to others). By working out for an hour while I do my work using my exercise bike laptop, I save another hours there. On days when I don't go out to a coffee shop for lunch, I may save 20-30 more minutes of productivity. If you add that all up, that's close to 3 additional hours per weekday, 15 hours per week, 60 extra hours each month.

Is that too much time on my hands? Not if I use it well. On some days, I have been able to wield this time like a sword, conquering annoying tasks that I'd never have the time for during my coffee shop or temping days. On others, well, I waste it, but since I'm doing this challenge, even on days that I waste it, I can say that I've been productive. Hooray for crazy challenges! :)

In writing news, I worked on some writing prompts related to holiday figures and rivals. I also wrote a blog post on famous quotes about happiness. Day number 90 tomorrow, woo woo!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day 88: 3 Months Approaching

It's pretty wild to think of the fact that I've almost completed 3 months of this challenge. Sure, that means there is still a baby worth of months to go, but 220,000 words is nothing to scoff at. I've had more than a few surprises so far in these 88 days. I assumed I'd have completed several books at this point but I'm still trudging along in #2. That being said, #2 is now well over 100,000 words and is going to be an impressive work when I finally get it edited :). By writing so many blog posts, I've also gotten several interesting requests that have come as a result of my increased traffic. If it wasn't for all the work I've put in on that (over 120 posts), those might not have come.

I also just thought of a brilliant idea for re-purposing some of my work in a way that might increase my sales. In the form of workbooks. They would just be in PDF and paperback form, but they would be really helpful for teachers who simply want to photocopy them and use them in class. I'm going to have to see how much they would cost to make and then assess from there :).

Today's writing included some prompts about brides and grooms and a blog post about Hanukkah writing prompts.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 87: Whistle While You Work

One of the things I'm loving about this writing challenge is that I've integrated housework (which I don't often like doing) and writing for hours at a time (which I've typically not had the patience for) and I've turned it into something I look forward to every day. One of the areas of my life I'd love to use this concept on in the future is with the marketing of my books. I've been very fortunate to have spread the word of my 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts book far and wide and I've sold over 6,000 copies of it from various sources. I have not been as successful with my other books and I know deep down that my Happiness book could be a big hit. I just need to get the word out to everyone and their mother.

The big thing that I really want to happen is to get it very much in the public eye by May, since that will be the time that hundreds of thousands of students are graduating from college, which is the perfect demographic for the book. I haven't figured it all out yet, but I'm going to try my best to make marketing a fun and productive part of my day.

On the writing front today, I worked on some character writing prompts about animal lovers and outdoorsy folk. I also wrote a post of kindergarten writing prompts. Onward to another day of writing fun!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Day 86: Home Sweet Home

Coming back after Thanksgiving was like a breath of fresh air for my writing. It was awesome getting back into the routine of my exercise biking freelance writing and for my creative writing prompt creation as well. Since I've also integrated housework into my daily writing routine, I'm already unpacked with a much tidier house than I woke up to this morning. Now, there are drawbacks, like the 20 degree drop in temperature from Pa. to Ill., but there are always benefits of detriments of any situation. I'm all about concentrating on the benefits :).

Still trying to figure out how I want to release this character writing prompts book. I may wait on Amazon, etc. entirely and just put the first part on my website, before doing a big launch of a BIG book (over 150,000 words big) some time in February. We shall see what happens, but I better make a decision soon. I also need to decide what I want to do about Ted Saves the World, which requires some serious revisions.

On the writing front, I worked on some character writing prompts about vegans and I put together a top ten list on writing prompts online.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Day 85: Communication

Being a writer does not always make you a good communicator. When I was younger, communication was far from my strong suit. I loved writing out my thoughts but had much more trouble expressing myself verbally. Thankfully, college and my dramatic art degree got me far out of my shell, dramatically (pun intended) expanding my comfort zone. From living at different times on both ends of the communication continuum, I've learned that most people communicate in their own unique way. The most important thing you can do when attempting to figure out how someone communicates is to listen. Don't just listen to the what. Listen to the why as well.

Today in the writing challenge, I wrote some character writing prompts about Knights and Jews. I also created a blog post about writing the Great American Novel. Hope everyone had an amazing Monday.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 84: The Muppets

I was extremely lucky today to see the new Muppets movie today with my family and Amy. It was good old-fashioned, wholesome, family entertainment and I loved every pun-laced minute of it. I think before I depart this world, I'd like to create something that everyone and their mother could love. I imagine that there's only a small chance that I could make a show or movie that so many people would see, but who knows, if Jason Segel could get in on that, maybe I could as well :).

On the writing front today, I worked on some more character writing prompts, coming pretty close to topping 100,000 words for the entire volume. I also created a blog post about a creative writing tip concerning a writing workout idea. Have a fantastic rest of your weekend everybody!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Day 83: Where to Be

It's interesting living a life as a writer because you aren't tied down to one particular place. While my girlfriend has a job that places her in Chicago, I could certainly finish my 2,500 words and my freelance work from any computer in the world. I haven't taken full advantage of this during the challenge (aside from this week in Pennsylvania) though I plan on doing it in March or so when I interview people for an awesome book that I will be working on in 2012.

In addition, we will hopefully be taking trips to Colorado and perhaps even California over the next year, which would allow me to see some amazing places while keeping up my challenge as if nothing has changed. I'm grateful for this freedom and I suggest that those who are thinking about writing full-time give it a shot for this very reason :).

Today, as I worked out some of the open bar drinks from my reunion last night ;), I worked on some character writing prompts and on a blog post of how to use writing prompts.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Day 82: Reunion

Today is my 10 year high school reunion. It's relatively low-key as it's at a bar in Philadelphia, not some crazy convention hall like the $48 price per person might convey. That being said, I'm glad I'm going and that I can afford to go, unlike some of my classmates due to financial situations. It'll also be fun to introduce folks to the girl I see myself spending the rest of my life with. I'm pretty far removed from high school after 10 years out and as a writer and a comedian, I've definitely traveled a pretty far path from the nerdy, quiet kid who mostly thought about girls he liked and how to be awkward around them :).

On the writing front, as I woke up from my turkey coma today and ate leftovers for breakfast, I worked on some character writing prompts. I have a feeling I might be nearly done part 2 by the end of December with a February release possible! To do that, I better put out part 1 first :). I also wrote a blog post with a happiness quote list. Enjoy your turkey sandwiches everybody!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day 81: Turkey!

I have to be quick here, because we're about to dash off to get Amy from the airport. I'm particularly glad to have gotten all of my writing completed before 9 a.m. because it means I can focus on cleaning, preparing and eating today instead of the writing challenge. That's the best part about this 365 day challenge, I can do it whenever I want to, and after 81 days of practice, I can finish it in a reasonable amount of time. Some days go by extremely quickly and if you don't put in some effort to add to your life's work each and every day, you might find 10 years have gone by without much to show for it purpose wise. If I can keep this going for those 10 years, I would have over 7 million words to show for it, and hopefully over 50 books. They might not all be masterpieces, but it's better than waiting for the masterpiece to come to me :).

Today, I wrote a blog post about using your leftovers and I continued to work on part 2 of 1,000 Character Writing Prompts.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day 80: Home

It can be difficult keeping up a writing challenge when you're at home. One of the first steps is to set up a decent work area for yourself. The best areas I've found so far are in my brother's old room, which has a desk and no brother in it until tomorrow night and the dining room table which will be covered with plates and food in no time. Another challenge is to try to fit in all your writing around family activities. I tried getting up early to take care of everything today, but I'll admit, I faltered a little. As long as you're geared up for the challenge and you refuse to quit, you will be able to weather the storm of going back to the place in which you're used to getting pampered and having to work. You'll get through it as long as you want it enough.

In preparation for turkey day, I wrote a blog post on a creative writing exercise called "home for the holidays" and I did some character writing prompts work while setting the table. Happy Thanksgiving eve, all!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Day 79: A Bit of Peace

It's funny how much things can change over the course of a few years. A little bit of peace can go a long way. Today, as I prepared to connect from Detroit to Philadelphia as I prepared to connect from Detroit to Philadelphia, I looked up at the monitor and saw my flight was cancelled. A few years back, this would have stressed me out incredibly. Nowadays, I can just shrug it off, smile and figure out the next step. The issue was resolved within minutes and I was able to keep a positive attitude throughout. Plus, it doesn't hurt to get a little more unimpeded time on the ground to do some writing :).

The moral of the story? Practice peace, gratitude, love, forgiveness and humility and after a while, the small stuff won't bother you nearly as much. After a few 4 a.m. writing prompts before my flight, I wrote a blog post on early morning writer.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Day 78: We Roll Along

Not too much on the news front today, though it was a pretty interesting weekend. Had an audition for the sequel to The Laramie Project, which would be the Chicago premiere of the play. That would really be an awesome project to be a part of. I also got to watch the Eagles win in the Meadowlands, which was unexpected and amazing. Throughout all of this, the writing challenge continued to roll along with some of my quickest writing days to date. Tomorrow and the rest of the week will bring a series of challenges as I will be far away from the place I've spent the last 78 days writing.

Tuesday will require planes, trains and automobiles to get me where I need to go, though I home to finish most of my writing early and may have to get up around 4 a.m. to fit it all in. Wednesday will require writing in my Pennsylvania home. Thursday will be a wild day of cooking, picking up my girlfriend from the airport and trying to fit my writing in before family arrive. Friday should be a relatively easy day, though Saturday may present issues with the late-night partying at my 10 year reunion the previous night.

No matter what challenges come, I will push through them and write my little heart out! :)

Today, I worked on some character writing prompts and I created a blog post about how to cure writers block, enjoy!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Day 77: Keeping Things Interesting

Last night, my girlfriend and I checked out the movie The Descendants, starring George Clooney. I thought the movie was fantastic, but the reason it's worth mentioning here is because it is such an intriguing story. There are so many books and movies that come off like bad knockoffs and copies of movies that were previously successful. How many movies do you have about a man dealing with the inheritance of 25,000 acres of Hawaiian land at the same time as coping with his dying wife's previous transgressions as she slowly dies from a speed boating accident? I would have to say, none!

Of course, it's important as a writer to put money in your wallet, and more often than not people tend to buy what they know or recognize. Every so often though, if you create something completely unique, that can have some major benefits as well. Keeping things interesting and yours during the writing process is imperative to writing something that will truly stand out.

Today on the writing front, wrote some more prompts for 1,000 Character Writing Prompts, Part 2 and wrote a blog post of journal writing prompts. Have a fantastic weekend and start getting excited for turkey day!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Day 76: As You Go Along

The thing about a challenge like this, one that I've never taken on before in my life, is that you kind of figure out things as you go along. Today, as I picked back up with part 2 of 1,000 Character Writing Prompts, I did some housework between prompts and ended up finishing 2,000 words in an hour and six minutes. That little break between each prompt allowed me to figure things out much more quickly than if I was staring at the screen. For me, it's just another trick in the arsenal to throw into the toolbox. These are the tricks that I will use on days that are difficult or crazy in order to get myself through my 2,500 words. It's encouraging that I keep finding new tricks and it makes me think that maybe I can exceed 365 days and go on for a lifetime :).

Today, I also wrote a blog post of journal writing topics that focus on writing about your life from someone else's perspective.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 75: Traveling

As the holidays come up, one of the most difficult challenges for everyday writers come to the surface. How can you get everything you need to completed when you're jumping from one flight to another and headed home to see your family and friends? The name of the game is definitely discipline. I will be getting up very early on Tuesday so that I can finish all of my writing, paid for or otherwise, to take a lot of the pressure off of needing to do it all while I'm on a plane or in an airport terminal.

That being said, when you're actually traveling, via plane or train, if you have a pad of paper for yourself available and a writing utensil (plus one backup), writing in transit is a synch. Know what scenes you plan on writing or make a note what you need to write about at the top of each page. I've used this method on multiple trips around the country and while it's tough to fit everything in, it's completely worth it not to "take a break" just because you're on "vacation." I would much rather have to make a few sacrifices here and there and complete 12,500 words during my 5 day vacation than have to catch up once I get back to Chicago!

Yesterday was my big Twitter #JournalChat and it was a ton of fun. Here's a transcript of the entire conversation. Did some fun back story work on Ted today and I'm thinking of taking a break soon to get back into the world of creating characters for 1,000 Character Writing Prompts, Part 2. I also wrote a blog post today about everyday creative writing. Happy Friday, all!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Day 74: The Deep Freeze

As winter in Chicago begins (about a month earlier than the official solstice), the deep freeze is on and I once again feel blessed to live in a warm apartment and to have a job that keeps me cozy. While I wouldn't say that the cabin-fever-causing life of a freelancer isn't ideal for everybody, it's certainly nice for people who like to stay warm during the winter :).

Interesting opportunities seem to abound this week as I'm involved in my first ever live Twitter chat with blogger Dawn Herring. Around 4 PM CST/2 PM PST I'll be answering questions and chatting about one of my latest blog posts that was centered on Journal Writing Ideas. Search #JournalChat today around that time to check out the chat!

Today on the writing front, I worked on Ted and I tried to be a step ahead of the game by creating a post of December writing prompts.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day 73: Results

I have accomplished a lot of great writing over the course of these 73 days so far. One of the only things I haven't seen a lot of is results. We live in such an automatic worlds these days when you can reach anybody immediately through so many different channels and where you can watch or listen to anything you want to with the click of a button. As a person who has been immersed in this world, I can't help but expect something to happen right away from my efforts. Of course, this doesn't mean that it will :).

The first book I wrote during this challenge, The Post-College Guide to Happiness only has three reviews so far and it's the kind of book that probably needs more than 50 to do some serious business. I did the writing and want the results, but it will probably take a lot more effort to get the reviews I need to get this book out to a larger audience. The second book I completed, and my longest ever, 1,000 Character Writing Prompts, Part 1, hasn't even been edited yet, in part, because I've been really busy. So, it's impossible for me to get any results out of that project yet.

I have increased the traffic on my website a great deal, which is quite encouraging. These are the results I'm going to need to focus on at times that I feel like quitting or putting my writing off till later in the day. If I keep pressing ahead, the results will come, they just might not be completely visible for months if not years. Sooner or later, my hard work will pay off.

Today on the writing side of things, I did some work on Ted Saves the World, including this gem:
"Ted, many people are saying that you are beaming alien signals through your nipples to gain your powers. Is this true?"
Dhiraj and Ted both stopped for that one.
"What are your sources?" Dhiraj asked.
"The Internet."

I also wrote a blog post of elementary writing prompts for the kids. Happy hump day, all!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 72: Jealousy

I have a friend, Amanda Deibert Staggs, who is pretty darn awesome. She writes for this fun show on Hulu called "The Morning After," in which they recap the previous night in television in about five minutes. Amanda was in the first play I ever directed and I've always been a fan of her as she is a fantastic actor and really cool person. I find it incredibly amusing that I've been a teensy bit jealous of the successes she's had, after she came out with this amazing comic, which is wonderfully illustrated by her wife, Cat:

Jealousy is a huge part of Facebook stalking. We go around looking at how well people have done for themselves and we see families and achievements. We see people we used to date getting married and being in love. We see people in our own field exceeding where we are and we get super jealous.

For the most part, I've been happy about how well Amanda has done for herself and for my other friends who are kicking butt in the world. But every so often, I'm jealous and I wish I could achieve those same levels of success. The comic goes to show, that more often than not, the people you are jealous of are actually jealous of other people too. The best way to break this vicious cycle is to try your best to be happy for what these people have achieved and to be proud of your own achievements as well.

I've done some awesome stuff and even though I'm not always living up to my expectations, there is probably someone out there that is looking at me with jealousy. It's time to just be grateful for what I have and move on with my life! Besides, getting all mopey looking at Facebook wastes time that I should be using for my writing.

Today in the world of my 365 day writing challenge, I wrote some really funny scenes in Ted Saves the World. Here's a quote from one of them:
"Erica internally lamented how easy it was to play the part of the punch drunk, lovelorn teenager. All she had to do was pretend to make frequent awful decisions that were guided solely by emotions."

I also wrote a Christmas-themed blog post about Christmas creative writing ideas. Without doubt, I am the most prolific Jew on the Web when it comes to writing about Christmas ;).

Monday, November 14, 2011

Day 71: Opportunities

It's funny how random opportunities tend to come along. I just got asked to be an Expert contributor on a website for children's book authors. The site gets better traffic than mine and has a mailing list of 40,000 people, so I figure, why not :). Of course, this opportunity comes at a time when I haven't even been thinking of writing for kids since my 500 Writing Prompts for Kids book.

It seems like more often than not, when you put something into the most inner reaches of your mind, it tends to come into your life, but when you're constantly pushing to make something a reality, the world tends to be more resistant. I know I'm not the first to make such an observation, it's just funny how often it's true.

Today in Ted, I wrote some fun dream sequences. I also wrote a post about selling books.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Day 70: 10 Weeks

It's official, I've been doing this challenge for 10 consecutive weeks. It's by far my longest writing streak of all time and here are some of the things I've accomplished in that time.

- Over 100 blog posts on Build Creative Writing Ideas
- Traffic increase from 422 visitors per day in Aug. 2011 to 706 per day in Oct. 2011
- Completed two books: The Post-College Guide to Happiness and 1,000 Character Writing Prompts, Part 1
- 70 blog posts on this blog, my first successful attempt to write a more personal blog
- Nearly doubling my AdSense income from August to October
- Writing 175,000+ words in total!

I'm very excited to see what else I can do in the next 42 weeks. I have several extremely awesome projects coming up including my novel, the second part of my 1,000 character prompts book and a journalistic look at a long-lost love story in North Carolina. All this and more coming your way :).

After working on Ted for a bit today, I wrote a blog post on quotes on happiness on the blog. Go Eagles!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Day 69: Advertising on a $10,000 budget

Yesterday, I started a thread on the website Kindle Boards, asking the question, "If you had $10,000 to market one book, what would you spend it on?"

There were some hilarious scenarios posed including soliciting Oprah (many rightly pointed out that she would probably cost more than that) or entering the headquarters with a clear suitcase asking how to make a book the "Kindle Book of the Day" which would lead to hundreds of sales. Many people said they'd spend it on various things like paying down their credit, going on a European press tour or on a ton of custom artwork for the book (I actually loved that last idea).

Author David Gaughran, who wrote the book Let's Get Digital, took the challenge at face value a bit more than the others, understanding the Brewster's Millions style of the situation. If you had to spend it all, how would you spend it? Not as an advance for the next book, not as cover art for the next 10 books, but if you had to spend it, in hopes of getting a decent return, how would you?

See, the thing about this hypothetical deal, is that you really need to sell about 5,000 copies (at $2.99) for the investor to get his money back. Let's imagine that I'm not concerned about making money off of the book myself and it's all about the experiment to see what the $10,000 could do. Let's try to break this down a little.

Advertising bursts at Kindle Nation Daily seem to lead to a temporary burst in sales, especially if it gets you into the Kindle Movers and Shakers list or into the Kindle Top 100. I assume that some of the other advertising pushes would have a similar, temporary affect. David suggested I create kind of a marketing dream list and so here is an idea for one, including advertising, book costs and giveaway expenses.

Advertising Methods:
Kindle Nation Daily Platinum Package - $439 - Estimated 50 sales
Pixel of Ink Sponsorship - $179 - Estimated 50 sales
AuthorBuzz Campaign - $1,500 - Estimated 100 sales
BlogAds Book Hive - $1,500 - Estimated 100 sales
Facebook Ads - $382 - Estimated 50 sales
Part-Time Social Marketer - $1,000 - Estimated 100 sales
Blog tour - Free - I love setting those things up on my own :)

Book Costs
Killer cover art - $500
Editing, formatting, etc. - $500
Book trailer - $500

Giveaway Expenses
Give away 250 paperbacks through Goodreads - $1,250 - Estimated 50 reviews, 50 sales
Give away 10 Kindles on a blog tour, etc. - $1,000 - 50 sales
Give away other wonderful prizes, etc. - $1,250 - 50 sales

Total Expenses: $10,000

So, using my completely unscientific method for estimating how many sales each method would bring in directly, spending the $10,000 to get some sales would lead to around 600 sales on the low end of estimates. That would mean that in order for the investor to get back his money on the deal, there would have to be around 4,400 indirect sales.

If the book is well-reviewed and the giveaways and advertising has led to at least 100 reviews, then the advertising methods might lead to some indirect sales. By which I mean, sales that come on the days after a marketing blitz or that come from people simply buying up a book with great cover art and a cool book trailer. Could that lead to 4,400 additional sales, to bump it up to $10,000 worth at a $2.99 price? Perhaps yes, perhaps no.

Obviously, this is all very speculative, but I think it's fun to come up with little ideas like this every now and then.

Today in the 365 day writing challenge, I worked a little more on the full-length novel version of Ted Saves the World and I did some work on a blog post of happiness quotations.

172,500 words down! Only 740,000 more to go :).

Friday, November 11, 2011

Day 68: Patience

One of the most important traits to learn during a major writing (or any creative) challenge is patience. There are so many activities that you are used to doing during the day that you may have to put off or cancel when your challenge becomes a major priority. Before the 365 challenge, I spent at least two hours a day learning everything I could possibly find out about the world of movies and television. I was obsessed. When I began the challenge, I knew I would have to cut that amount of time in half or make it non-existent on certain days when my creativity taps seemed to be running dry.

I also had to be patient when it came to enjoying late night activities. My girlfriend and I would occasionally stay up past midnight hanging out, playing games or watching television. Since I know that my best work tends to come between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. and that I need at least 7 hours of sleep to be awake enough to produce it, I have to put off some of those fun activities to another day. It's become so easy to have fun and to be entertained in life, that you can't help want to put off work when you don't have to do it.

When it comes down to it, a writing challenge isn't even mostly about writing. It's about patience, perseverance, hard work, willpower and the understanding of the people around you. If you want to be a writer but you're worried about your skill level, there's no issue. The hardest working writers with the most patience tend to be some of the most successful. The fact that you will get the opportunity to do something you enjoy with your life will help you to push even further.

Today, when I first started working on Ted Saves the World, no words came, but I was patient that I could get my brain revved up and ready to work. Low and behold, two hours later, I was done my 2,000 words. In addition, I worked on a blog post today of poetry writing prompts.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Day 67: Flurries

As I write this post, I am looking out my window at the first snow flurries of the season. I think I've set myself up pretty well for the cold weather this year, writing-wise. After moving into the bigger apartment with an office, I have more writing room than ever. With my laptop bike, I'm able to get some much needed oxygen to my brain while I write. In addition, I get an adequate amount of exercise (though it still requires some supplementation) as I wrote, saving me a ton of time.

There will no doubt be days during which I will not want to work. Fortunately, through the previous 66 days of this challenge, I've set up grate habits for myself that will be easy to follow. Currently, I am confidence I can take this challenge through the winter and all the way back around to September 2012.

Today, I continued to work on Ted and I wrote a blog post about my prospective visualization goals.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Day 66: Happiness

How has this writing challenge contributed to my overall level of happiness?

This is an important question to ask for several reasons. First of all, as someone who has written a book about happiness, I should make sure that what I'm doing at any given time is contributing positively to my levels of joy. Secondly, since the first book I wrote on the challenge was that happiness book, how well it represents the subject is worth looking at to see if I'm keeping my quality up as well as my quantity. Thirdly, I think that other people on writing challenges such as NaNoWriMo should know if they can maintain their general happiness while working on something as difficult as a novel.

I'm proud to say that this challenge has contributed very well to my happiness during the last two months. While it has caused some issues socially and there have been days in which I've felt like collapsing on the couch for a few days, overall, I am feeling happier compared to a few months ago. I knew at that time that I needed something to keep me focused and to keep me excited about writing. Even though I know that writing is a major part of my life purpose, I still needed to set a goal for myself that would be challenging and this idea of writing 2,500 words a day for 365 days straight has fit the bill.

Today, I continued to work on the young-adultish fantasy novel, and I'm very glad to be giving it a second go in a full-length version. I'm able to flesh out some characters more and I've had a great time seeing how they get from point A to point B in a much more complex tale. I also wrote a blog post today focusing on quotes about happiness, which provides some context to several amazing quotes on the subject of joy.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day 65: Laugh a Little

Something I've found helpful with this challenge is that when I feel a little stale, I try to spend a little time watching something funny. While my girlfriend and I tend to watch a few sitcoms a week, sometimes I need a bit of a boost in the middle of the day. Thankfully, I have websites like Hulu and Netflix to help me meet my comedic daily requirement. The trick is, to only watch one or two videos and to try not to spend more than 20 minutes in total. That way you can still be productive and not worry about wasting your day sucking up the Internet's bandwidth :).

In writing news, I worked on some fun scenes in Ted Saves the World and wrote a blog post of essay writing prompts.

For those of you keeping track at home, I've now written 162,500 words as part of this challenge. And it seems like I just started yesterday... :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Day 64: Direction

When I was in college, there was this awesome moment during which I really fell in love with directing. I haven't done it as much lately as I think I should, which is why I was really fortunate to be able to direct a commercial yesterday. I was in the hallway of the Center for Dramatic Arts when a friend of mine asked me to come in and watch him perform a scene with a partner. I gave the two of them a little advice and the next day he told me he knocked it out of the park.

After I gave the directing advice, I felt like I'd come upon something of a calling. I've directed some shows here and there since, but I'm often caught up in the producing side of things and I can't focus. Yesterday, working with the cast of Jersey Shore: The Musical was awesome and I hope that what Brian Sly and I come up with will be something special, whether it wins the Crash the Super Bowl contest or not.

On the writing side of things, this morning I worked on Ted Saves the World, including a scene where our hero has to catch a thief while wearing nothing but his boxers. On the blog, I wrote about how to recover from procrastination. While I'll be writing most of the day, I'll be buzzing with anticipation until I see some of the footage from yesterday. Woo hoo!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Day 63: Quality and Quantity

I've had more than a few people ask me during this challenge if I was going for quantity over quality. This is a perfectly legitimate question, because it's obvious that I'm spending a whole lot of time on writing, which may be cutting into my editing time. In actuality, I've always been a quick editor and I'm happy to hand off some of the duties to my editor and friend, Ashley Daoust. By making sure I have someone on hand to help me through the important process of re-writing, I hope that I can strike a good balance between quality and quantity.

Today in writing, I continued to work on the beginning of my new full-length novel version of Ted Saves the World. I also created a page of middle school writing prompts. Off to shoot a Doritos commercial!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day 62: On a Whim

Last night I decided, on a whim, to scrap my plans for adding content to Writer on the Side for the time being because I was inspired to turn my novella, Ted Saves the World into a full-length novel. It was my initial research for Writer that made me realize I've been spending too much time helping others to be creative without giving myself enough of an outlet.

I was a little rusty at first at bringing my fantasy action-adventure back to life, but I really got into the swing of it with Ted and the rest of the good guys. I've pegged the book as my homage to Joss Whedon and mixing the witty, the hilarious and the tragic in equal measure. I'm really excited to do what I can to make it a jam-packed book with humor, action and general craziness :).

On the writing blog today, I created a page of journal writing ideas to give people a different perspective on writing about their boring, routinized days.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Day 61: Doritos and Callback!

This is a big weekend for me. On Saturday, I have my callback for the role of Bartley in The Cripple of Inishmaan. On Sunday, I'll be directing a commercial for the Doritos Crash the Super Bowl contest featuring the awesome cast of Jersey Shore: The Musical. When you have a lot of projects going on, it can be difficult to stay focused on the task at hand, but as long as you stay as close to your routine as possible, you'll usually be fine.

For example, today I had to figure out how to load in all the equipment to Vibes Media in downtown Chicago and fit my writing in. Since I was able to schedule the load in for the afternoon, it didn't conflict at all with my writing. One of the benefits of freelancing is that you have the freedom to fit stuff around such a wacky schedule :).

Today in writing news, I finished 1,000 Character Writing Prompts, Part 1 and I started doing some work to revamp my previous books Sharpening the Pencil and Writer on the Side. In addition, to keep myself in the holiday spirit, I wrote a Thanksgiving writing prompt list.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day 60: Writing Challenge

After approximately two months, I think it's time I took some extra time to reflect on my writing challenge. I am just four writing prompts away from finishing my second book of the self-generated competition, which will have been my longest book of all time at around 70,000 words. I'm extremely proud of myself and I think that I've grown since I began 60 days ago.

Starting a writing challenge like has caused me to think outside the box about what was directly affecting my writing productivity. I knew that I needed some extra oomph, which caused me to purchased the Fit Desk X bike. Since I bought it, I've used it over an hour each morning to get the oxygen necessary to my brain to complete my daily task. In addition, I know now for a fact that having an office for my very own with a door I can close has been extremely helpful. The days in which I finish my writing before noon have tripled in our new apartment because of the office and the added space.

I was a little worried about splitting my writing between the three sources: my books, my writing blog and this blog, but I've learned it was a great decision. Not only is my web traffic up, but my book sales and advertising clickthroughs have gone up as well. This helps me a great deal in the challenge because I can immediately see my results having an effect. If I was writing the books alone, it would be a bit tougher, since you can't make money off a book until it's edited, designed and published. Even though the books are likely to bring more "pudding" in the long-term, having that short term reminder that, "Hey, your writing pays!" is a welcome reminder.

Now that I've finished The Post-College Guide to Happiness and have come quite close to completing 1,000 Character Writing Prompts, Part 1, I have proven to myself that the longer I go with this writing challenge, the more books I will write. If I can keep up the same pace, I'll end up 12 books completed by the end of the challenge with another book on the way. In addition, I'll have over 450 blog posts completed (since I'm posting parts of the books along the way), which should help me to reach my website traffic goals.

In other words, life is good, and I'm glad I've embarked on such a journey! Continue to follow along to see if I can make it to the end :).

In today's writing, I wrote a blog post of short story topics and post a page of character writing prompts on landlords.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Day 59: Next!

One of the reasons that I decided to split my 1,000 Character Writing Prompts book into two parts is because I've gotten a bit tired of prompts for the time being. This will allow me to take a break with the prompts and focus on another book for the time being. I will be just about finished the first 500 prompts tomorrow or Friday, at which time I will have to pick something new.

I have a few ideas in mind, including revamping a few of my old books in time for the wonderful gift-giving holidays coming up. I've always been very proud of my book Writer on the Side, but one of the issues is that it's too short and doesn't include enough information. I'd like to beef it up from 32,000 to at least 50,000 and give it the most up to date information I can. I really think it could be one of my top sellers if I can make it as amazing as I'd like it to be, and get it out to as many reviewers as possible. Then again, I'd also like to go back to my Ted Saves the World series because it's so fun. I've got 24 to 48 hours to decide, let's see what happens!

Today on the blog, I wrote a post about my favorite free writing prompts and I caught up on posting a few character writing prompts pages like this one on the subject of royalty.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day 58: Habits

I've found that the productivity in my life has been directly related to my habits good or bad. When I worked out every morning at 5:30 a.m. during my junior and senior years of high school, my productivity went through the roof my first few periods of the day. When I worked at a coffee shop and downed double shots to keep myself perky during work(-y), I found that my productivity suffered when I went home.

Now that I'm writing 2,500 words every morning (that is more recently accompanied by a laptop bike ride), I'm finding that I'm able to get a ton of stuff done each day. While I would like to be able to market my books 24/7 when I'm not writing them, my other tasks like my freelance work, housework and my fun activities on the side have been much more tended to then they were when I wasn't on the writing challenge. If you can make it your habit to get something done each day, you'll find that other things get done as well. Hooray!

I wrote an article today about giving up caffeine and I came very close to finishing at least the beginning of all 500 prompts.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Day 57: Trust

Trust can be a tricky thing when you're a creative person. Often a writer must trust other people with his work and when you don't have a lot of money, those people may or may not be very good at what they do. A writer or general creative person must also gain trust. He must perform at a very high level and must be careful with the property he rents, such as a car or a light kit, to produce his material. A creative person must also trust himself to complete his given tasks in a certain amount of time. Obviously, I didn't completely trust myself to finish my required writing every day, so I embarked on this quest. By the end of it, I hope to have a little more trust in me and I hope to earn a bit more trust with others.

Today in the writing world, I came closer to finishing the first 500 prompts, which as I mentioned yesterday, will be compiled in a first volume. I also wrote a blog post consisting of creative writing lesson plans. Happy Monday everybody!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Day 56: 8 Weeks!

Here we are about to head into week 9 of the challenge. I'm feeling pretty strong about how well I'm able to finish my workload each day and I'm pleased to announce I got a callback for the Cripple of Inishmaan show I announced yesterday! I'm feeling pretty good about today and I was happy to celebrate a bit last night with a drink and a boatload of candy at a party last night.

Even if I say it more than most, I still may not say it enough. I'm really blessed to have the people and things that I have in my life and I'm very grateful. I used to wish that I could be someone else, be in someone else's shoes so that I wouldn't have to continue living the life I'd been leading. There are pangs of wanting to escape every so often, but for the most part, I know that I was born into this life for a reason and I'm quite thankful.

Today I came close to being halfway done the 1,000 Character Writing Prompts book, which I've decided to split into two volumes and I wrote a page of descriptive writing prompts.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Day 55: An Irishman

Today was a pretty wild one for the challenge as I was able to take part in multiple art forms. First and foremost, I tackled 2,000 words with the character writing prompts book. Secondly, I went to audition for the lead role in The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh at the Redtwist Theatre. The audition was a ton of fun and I hope to be called back.

You might wonder how I go about balancing my interests as a writer and an actor. Click the link to see my blog post about it. I'm considering going for Halloween as an Irish priest. What about all of you?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Day 54: The Bike

My laptop bike is here! The Fit Desk X is an exercise bike with a laptop pad on it so you can cycle while you work. Since this challenge keeps me sitting a good chunk of the day, I'm hoping that the bike can keep me in tip-top shape during the long Chicago winter. I would love to emerge from the season about 10 to 20 pounds lighter if possible. In addition to writing a creative writing topic list and some character writing prompts, I also worked on some jokes for my 10th high school reunion, during which I may do a stand-up comedy routine. Woo!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day 53: Chores

One thing I must admit about this challenge is that I've often put my energy into writing as opposed to doing chores around the house. I haven't given things like fully moving into our new apartment as much time as I should. While my girlfriend has also been a little slow to unpack due to her tough job, I shouldn't use that as an excuse. Today or tomorrow, in order to conk out the clutter a bit, I'll spend at least an hour getting my life in order. You can't put off living like an organized human being when doing these types of challenges, because eventually, such clutter will make it difficult to concentrate. My two cents for the day :).

Today, I added a few prompts to sections I hadn't started yet such as "dark and mysterious" and "salespeople." On the blog, I wrote a fiction writing prompt list.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day 52: Goals

When you're in the midst of a challenge, it's a good idea to re-affirm your goals every so often (if not every day). It's easy to lose sight of why you're doing something if the temporary discomfort blinds you from the glorious end result.

Personally, if I can complete my 365 day challenge, I will be able to dramatically increase my body of work and hopefully my income in the process. This is pure Quadrant two work here, that I may now see the benefit of for months or years. Eventually though, all my hard work now will pay dividends in the future in ways I can't even currently comprehend.

I worked on some seedy underbelly character writing prompts today, along with an expository writing prompt list on the website. Happy hump day, y'all!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Day 51: To The Crowd

Today on my blog I wrote a page of narrative writing prompts, even though my site is already full of them. The reason was that while my site is optimized for many writing prompts-related keywords, I've never before mentioned narrative prompts. By creating this page, I'm doing a bit of playing to the crowd in hopes to increase my traffic.

While I'm still far away from my goal of 5,000 unique visitors and $100 of Google AdSense per day, reaching that goal will take writing articles with many keywords that potentially have high value. Slowly but surely, I'll get there!

I also worked on more character writing prompts and passed 60,000 words in the book in total, my longest book so far!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Day 50: Dragon My Feet

Today was definitely a bit of a "dragon my feet" day (dragging my feet, see what I did there?) but I'm happy to report I have nearly completed the workload. On a day like today, I'm not able to do as much auxiliary work such as formatting and editing, but regardless, it's always a great feeling to complete what I've set out to do.

I'm still plotting some marketing ideas for the guide to happiness, so feel free to drop any ideas on me here or on my other blog. I chugged through some more writing prompts on optimists and athletic coaches today and I have at least 10 pages to post at some point. In addition, I wrote a blog post of prompts for one of the most popular keywords on the web, high school writing prompt. Yes, it's singular, but I figure, you have to play the Internet's game some time :).